Staph Infection Can Occur on Any Injured Skin
A skin staph infection might be small and limited to the upper layer's of the skin, or extend to deeper layers and cause a painful, tender, pus-filled boil, as seen here, or a more serious infection. The infection starts when the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria enter and infect injured skin.
The injury site can be an acne pimple on the face, a bruise, a scrape, a scratch, or a small or larger cut or incision on skin anywhere on the body. The source of the staph organism can be those that live on the skin's surface, and other sites such as the nostrils, mouth or throat, or on unclean surfaces.
Small, Early Staph Infection
These small reddened areas above the upper lip might be early, superficial staph infections. They may have started when a bruise, scratch or a shaving injury became infected by organisms in the nose or mouth.
The skin's surface is also a ready source of staph bacteria as the organisms can colonize skin all over the body, including the face. Many people can also carry staph on skin in the genital and anal areas without signs or symptoms of an infection unless the sites become injured or disturbed.
A Draining Staph Infection on the Leg
Scratches or bruises on the leg can be invaded by staph bacteria like any other area of skin. This staph leg infection that is draining yellowish fluid is a small boil, or abscess, that is a more advanced infection.
If the lesion continues to drain, and the infection does not spread further, no treatment will be needed. It is important to keep the areas of staph infection clean to prevent a deeper infection that does more damage and might be harder to treat.
Blisters on the Lips
These fluid-filled blisters on the lips are likely a sign of impetigo, a staph or streptococcal infection more common in young children. They can also occur on other areas of the body and are contagious, spreading from one person to another. The blisters can open and drain straw-colored fluid then heal without leaving scars.
A Bruised Lip as a Site of Infection
What appears to be a superficial bruise on a child's lower lip can become infected with staph. The redness and swelling might be a sign infection has already set in. The mouth is an available source of the bacteria to infect this injured skin even though the surface does not appear to be broken.
An Infected Pimple
The staph infection in this small pimple on the upper lip can worsen and spread and cause redness and a larger swelling of the area. A pimple can occur when a hair follicle gets blocked by oils from the skin's sebaceous glands or by dead skin or dirt.
Staph can then infect the clogged pore and cause a folliculitis (infected hair follicle). These bumps can drain by themselves or sometimes need to be opened by a doctor if a larger boil develops.
Cut on Heel
Cuts and puncture wounds on the bottom of the feet can also get infected. Staph can get into the wound from walking bare-footed on contaminated soil or floors. It is important to not ignore cuts and scrapes on the feet and to take extra care if they appear to be infected. This is especially important for diabetics who are more prone to foot injuries and infections.
Scalded Skin Syndrome
Scalded skin syndrome is a red rash or blisters that look like a scald or burn and can be accompanied by a fever. It is caused by toxins produced by the staphylococcus bacteria and can occur on skin away from the initial site of infection. Scalded skin syndrome more commonly occurs in younger children and babies and should be evaluated and treated by a doctor.
Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria in Bone Marrow
The staph bacteria can go from skin to infect the bloodstream and other tissues in the body such as bone or bone marrow, the inner lining of the heart, or heart valves. This systemic staph infection can destroy tissues and cause serious illness and even death if not recognized and treated quickly.
Treatment with appropriate antibiotics is needed when a skin infection is large or not draining adequately or when it spreads to other areas of the body.
A Fever Can Develop
Significant staph infections on the skin can cause a fever. A rise in temperature is more likely to occur if the infection extends below the skin's surface layers (the epidermis) into the deeper layers of the dermis.
A deep infection can produce cellulitis on the skin - a larger area of redness and swelling around the site of infection - or a boil can develop. A fever can also mean the infection has spread to the bloodstream or to other tissues.
Proper Attention and Treatment
Keeping skin clean and dry and avoiding contaminated clothing and surfaces can reduce the risk of infecting injured skin or hair follicles. This is especially important to reduce the risk of acquiring Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph infection that is resistant to the methicillin and other formerly effective antibiotics.
See your doctor for evaluation and treatment if it appears an area of skin infection is worsening or not improving, you develop a fever, or you don't feel well and might have a systemic infection.